Nagios is the foundation for many networking applications world wide and is know for it's flexibility. The Nagios Visual Shell (V-Shell) is a new project building upon those concepts. What follows is a short review of V-Shell and an interview with the lead developer of this new Nagios project.
The V-Shell Review
My first impression of the Nagios V-Shell is that I like the simplicity and the tactical focus. Like all interfaces that grow over time, you often end up not using some featues or you may not want to view most features but rather focus on the primary goals. The V-Shell provides the primary focus in the "Tactical Overview" and places you there when you login.
The menu bar helps you get to the resources you need to check quickly and the information and the ability to manipulate it are all similar to the standard interface of Nagios. An additional feature of the menu at the top is that you have more space for plugin information.
The colors are pleasing and the text is easy to read.
Here is the Tactical Overview which clearly focuses on what you need to know.
Here is a view of the service detail once you click on the menu. Nice detail just like the typical Nagios interface and the ability to issue commands as you need.
When you click on "System Commands" you are provided access to information and commands.
One aspect that Mike mentions in the interview is that V-Shell is a stand alone application so you will have access to it by pointing the browser to http://nagios_ip/vshell which the Nagios core interface is still available as well.
This project illustrates two primary reasons I like Nagios. First, Nagios is under continual development. Great to see new ideas and new projects that provide opportunities for the whole community. Second, Nagios is flexible and that flexibility allows for administrators to configure it so that it meets their needs. Providing access to a PHP interface is another big step toward adding to that flexibility.
Thanks Mike we are looking forward to continuing development at Nagios.
We're always looking for feedback or new ideas. The best place to discuss them is the V-Shell forum which is located at:
If readers had some ideas that they wanted to see implemented or if they had comments where should they direct them?
Other future developments that we want to implement in the next 6 months include AJAX updates of the host and service tables, so the pages don't need to be refreshed to receive fresh data, as well as some sort of component installer so users can easily link to other tools such as PNP or NagiosQL without having to manually change anything in the code.
We are just about to release a 1.1 version of V-Shell that will have some important revisions that will improve the performance of the interface a great deal. I want to give special thanks to Dave Worth who has been a community contributor and has done some excellent work on the backend to improve performance. The other immediate feature that will be in the 1.1 release is paging ability for the host and service tables. We wanted to decrease the load time for user with several thousand services, and we hope to address that need with this release.
What are future developments of V-Shell that you are considering and what is the timeline for changes?
Just as V-Shell can run alongside of a Nagios Core installation, it can do so with Nagios XI as well. A lot of the page design in V-Shell is modeled after the Nagios XI interface. The advantages that Nagios XI provides is that it integrates several of the best community products into one interface, as well as several new components that save huge amounts of time in set up and configuration. XI is built to allow users to configure almost anything from the Web Interface. Configuration wizards, user management, and a database backend make XI a huge time saver when setting up a monitoring environment.
Is Nagios V-Shell used with Nagios XI? And if so tell us a little about XI and the advantages that it provides.
Because PHP is an interpreted language, it's generally considered to be much more "human readable," and it's much easier to modify than a CGI interface. Nothing needs to be compiled, so if a user wants to change a title on a page, they can simply open up the script in a text editor and make the change that they want. Flexibility and ease of use were part of our goals with V-Shell.
What advantages does PHP provide for a Nagios interface?
I think the two primary goals of V-Shell are: To provide a fresh look to Nagios, with the ability to easily modify the style to meet the user's preference, and to provide an interface that users can customize to meet their needs.
What is the primary goal of Nagios V-Shell, changing the way the Nagios interface looks or providing additional functionality?
The V-Shell interface can run as a standalone application on a system that has Nagios Core installed. It doesn't change any configurations, and it can be run alongside of Nagios Core without making any changes to the Core system. All of the Nagios system commands are accessed by linking directly to Nagios Core, so the functionality of the original system remains in place.
When you install Nagios V-Shell how does it impact Nagios core?
What's different about V-Shell is that it's a new UI that's built from the ground up in PHP. There are several great options out there that re-skin the original Nagios Core UI, and change the stylesheets for a fresher look. The original Core UI was written in C, which is not a friendly language for working with XHTML or the CSS of the page. An interface written in PHP allows people who aren't necessarily developers to make changes and modifications as they have need.
Nagios Visual Shell is an Open Source PHP UserInterface, how is this different from a frontend, for example how does it differ from the exfoliation frontend?
I started working for Nagios in June 2010, and I actually came on board as a student developer. My job here started out doing primarily documentation and support, and has gradually moved more towards doing development as my primary focus. When I started working here I didn't have a very clear sense of what I wanted my focus to be in terms of my career, I really enjoying working with Linux, and at that time I was still just getting my feet wet as far as development goes. After writing one or two components for Nagios XI in PHP, I quickly realized how much I enjoyed development. The V-Shell was my first substantial development project, and it was initially going to be much simpler than what the final product was. There were a lot of things I learned as I went during it's development.
Please describe for us your responsibilites at Nagios and how long you have worked there.
http://exchange.nagios.org/directory/Addons/Frontends-(GUIs-and-CLIs)/Web-Interfaces/Nagios-V%252DShell/detailsHere is a link to the video which he has produced, a PDF with installation steps and a download link to try it out.
What follows is an interview with Mike Guthrie the lead developer of V-Shell at Nagios. Mike has written a PHP user interface for Nagios.Interview with Mike Guthrie